How Industry Analysts Shape the Digital Future

ISBN : 9780198704928

Neil Pollock; Robin Williams
368 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
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Industry analysts are in the business of shaping the technological and economic future. They attempt to 'predict' what will become the next big thing; to spot new emerging trends and paradigms; to decide which hi-tech products will win out over others and to figure out which technology vendors can deliver on their promises. In just a few short years, they have developed a surprising degree of authority over technological innovation. Yet we know very little, if anything about them. This book seeks to explain how this was achieved and on what this authority rests. Who are the experts who increasingly command the attention of vendor and user communities? What is the nature of this new form of technical and business knowledge? How Industry Analysts Shape the Digital Future offers the first book length study into this rarely scrutinized form of business expertise. Contributions to this volume show how, from a small group of mainly North American players which arose in the 1970s, Gartner Inc. has emerged as clear leader of a $6 billion industry that involves several hundred firms worldwide. Through interviews and observation of Gartner Inc. and other industry analyst firms, the book explores how these firms create their predictions, market classifications and rankings, as well as with how these outputs are assessed and consumed. The book asks why many social scientists have ignored the proliferation of these new forms of management and technical expertise. In some cases scholars have 'deflated' this kind of business acumen, portraying it as arbitrary knowledge whose methods and content do not deserve enquiry. The valuable exception here has been the path-breaking work on the 'performativity' of economic, financial or accounting knowledge. Drawing upon recent performativity arguments, the book argues the case for a Sociology of Business Knowledge.


Prologue: King of the Hill?

1. The Social Study of Information Technology Markets

2. The Emergence of a New Expert

3. The Organisation of Analyst Work

4. The Professionalisation of Business Knowledge

5. The Business of Technology Expectations

6. Who Decides the Shape of Product Markets?

7. Marketing of Quantifications

8. Venues of High Tech Prediction

9. Give Me a 2x2 Matrix and I Will Create the Market

10. The Expertise Ecosystem

11. From IT Markets to the Sociology of Business Knowledge

Appendix 1: List of Industry Analyst and IT Market Research Firms

Appendix 2: Fieldwork Conducted

About the author: 

Neil Pollock, who was originally trained in computing and Science & Technology Studies, is Professor of Innovation and Social Informatics at the University of Edinburgh Business School where he heads the Entrepreneurship and Innovation academic subject group. As well as leading a department of faculty specialising in the innovation and commercialisation of new technologies, he is also a founding member of the Edinburgh Social Informatics Cluster. He is primarily known for his interdisciplinary research on IT that sits at the intersection between Information Systems, Innovation Studies and Economic Sociology. Neil has published in the highest rated academic journals which includes MIS Quarterly, Organization Studies, Information Systems Research, Accounting, Organizations & Society, Organization, Social Studies of Science and Science, Technology & Human Values. He is associate editor of the journals Information and Organization and New Technology, Work and Employment.; Robin Williams is Professor of Social Research on Technology and Director of the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) at the University of Edinburgh. He ran the Edinburgh PICT Centre under the ESRC Programme on Information and Communications Technologies (1987-95). Building on this he developed an interdisciplinary research programme on 'the social shaping of technology', with over 50 externally-funded projects, which culminated in the formation of ISSTI. His personal research has focused upon the development and implementation of a range of Information Technology systems and Infrastructures including Enterprise systems, mobile broadband, e-health technologies

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